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The barking dog, is that normal?

Barking is an innate form of communication in dogs. The barking dog wants, among other things, to interact with its congeners and other species. The barking is variable in frequency, intonation, and power depending on the message the dog wants to pass. It could be an invitation to play, defense of the territory, to attract attention…. and also the externalization of excitement or stress.

Certain breeds of dogs naturally bark more. For example, terriers selected for hunting are very barking dogs by nature. This ability was used when hunting. These dogs are now very popular as a companion dog and therefore can cause nuisance barking problems. Studies have shown that there are therefore more or less barking dog breeds. The Jack Russel terrier and the cocker spaniel, for example, are easily barking dogs, so much so that the basenji and the Nordic dogs bark very much. However, in addition to these tendencies is the temperament of each dog.

One of the dog's oldest roles was to warn its owners of a possible intrusion into the territory. It is therefore normal for our companions to bark when they sense a stranger nearby. In the countryside, no problem, the houses are spaced out and it is rare for people to park in front of the gate. In the city, where the gardens are stuck to each other, where the passages in front of the fences are repetitive, where we can hear our neighbors discussing, walking over our heads, the dog's senses are constantly on the alert and the urge to bark to warn us and to defend its territory are multiple.

The barking dog can also suffer from anxiety: stress can cause him to bark unreasonably. His stimulation threshold is lowered and at the slightest stimuli, the dog begins to vocalize to request the return of his master. This is often the case with behavioral problems related to separation from the owner, during hyperactivity syndrome, but also simply when the dog's needs for physical activity, exploration, and play are not met.

When barking excessively, try to identify the reason for the barking and find solutions. For example, when defending the territory, we should avoid leaving the dog behind the garden gate or encouraging him to bark by shouting ourselves. During a lack of activity, we will increase the physical exercises and exploration. But, as these can also be behavioral disorders such as anxiety, if other damage or symptoms are added to barking, seek advice from your veterinarian and sometimes even consult.

How to teach your dog not to bark too often?

To avoid having a barking dog, education begins upon adoption. When you welcome the puppy into the house and leave it alone in a room or at home, it is important not to respond to the puppy's vocal requests. Do not come back to him until he is calm and has been silent. Otherwise, the puppy will become used to barking to call you even when you are away. (read the article on the crying and howling dog).

During education, there are certain rules to follow so as not to exacerbate the dog's urge to use his voice. Without even realizing it, you develop barking in your dog. Indeed, by shouting at him to shut up, we can give the dog the impression that we are barking with him, which reinforces his behavior.

In order to teach the dog not to bark, you must therefore give a short, sharp command such as “STOP” or “SHUT”. If this is not enough, one can initially act to physically stop the barking by closing the mouth with the hand gently. You can also create a diversion to redirect the dog's attention, for example by throwing a can full of coins or something nearby. This diversion or the stopping of the sequence will always be accompanied by the “STOP” command which in the end will suffice. It is also preferable at the beginning to call the dog to oneself and put him in the basket to cut the sequence. Remember to congratulate him on adopting the right behavior.

When barking excitedly or if the dog asks for your attention, simply ignore it. Turn your back on him, go into another room, and come back to him once he's calmed down.

You can also get your dog used to a sound or a situation that makes him bark, by desensitizing him. The principle is to reduce the stimulus that triggers the barking, such as doorbells or the sound of someone at the door, and to order silence if the dog reacts. Over time, the intensity and frequency are increased until the dog loses attention and loses interest.

What about the bark collar? All collars are designed to create an instant diversion when the dog is barking and thus stop him in action. The electric collars produce an electric shock, therefore, a physical sanction. This type of collar is not recommended for dogs with anxiety as it may make it worse. The citronella bark collar is softer. It has the advantage of helping you know if the dog has barked a lot in your absence, as it will leave a scent in the house. We will be able to assess the progress of his dog and there is no physical punishment. Each necklace has its advantages and disadvantages, but the most recommended currently is, without a doubt, the one with lemongrass. Some studies show that they are more effective if the problem is recent.

Managing barking

The management of barking in dogs begins as soon as they arrive home. Above all, be careful not to invite your dog to bark. Desensitization, the command "stop" or "shhh", the reward for good behavior, distraction are all methods that make it possible to stop or reduce barking. However, keep in mind that this is a natural means of communication and the dog will always bark a little ...

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